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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Police removed a dog from a North Ogden home on Monday, March 5, 2012, after neighbors noticed the animal had been left behind when the family abandoned the house.

NORTH OGDEN — A homeowner who neighbors say left behind a dog when the family abandoned their home, could face charges of animal cruelty or neglect, according to police.

But neighbors expressed frustration Monday that authorities could not resolve the situation they had been reporting since Thursday.

"I just want to make sure that dog isn't abused and neglected," neighbor Brian Brockbrader said Monday. "No dog deserves that."

Brockbrader said he first noticed a small, shaggy dog in the home's bay window Thursday. But when he approached the home to investigate, the dog quickly ran away. The homeowners appeared to have abandoned the home several days before, leaving behind much of their belongings, he said.

Another neighbor said he feared other dogs had also been left in the home. The family that left the home had owned two or three adult Shih Tzus, and a litter of puppies was born about a month ago, said neighbor Paul Ausdal.

Police and animal control office rs responded to neighbors' complaints on Thursday, Friday and Monday, said North Ogden police detective Paul Rhoades. But each time, they could not see or hear any dogs inside the home.

"Our hands are tied," Rhoades said early Monday afternoon. "We are concerned for the welfare of any animals. But at the same time we have to watch out for peoples' property rights."

In such situations, police cannot enter a home without the owner's permission unless they can verify that the animal is in immediate danger.

By contacting extended family members, officers confirmed Monday that several of the dogs were no longer in the home, Rhoades said.

Later Monday afternoon, police were able to contact the homeowner, who agreed to go to the home to let officers inside. A small Shih Tzu-type dog was removed from the home and taken to the Weber County Animal Shelter. Rhoades said the dog appeared to be in good condition.

Police were told that the homeowners had abandoned the home because they were facing financial difficulties and expected foreclosure. Family members said they had left one dog behind that did not get along with the family, until they could find another home for it, the detective said.

According to a family relative who asked not to be identified, two adult dogs and the puppies were taken with the homeowners when they moved out, and another family member had been checking on the remaining dog.

Brockbrader said he doubted that had been happening. No caretaker's footprints ever appeared in snow that began covering the ground since Wednesday evening, he said.

The case was referred to the North Ogden city attorney for investigation of animal cruelty or animal neglect, Rhoades said.